MOVIEmeter
SEE RANK
Up 1 this week

An American Crime (2007)

7.4
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.4/10 from 21,279 users  
Reviews: 110 user | 52 critic

The true story of suburban housewife Gertrude Baniszewski, who kept a teenage girl locked in the basement of her Indiana home during the 1960s.

Director:

Watch Trailer
0Check in
0Share...

Watch Now

Free at IMDb + 2 more

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 30 titles
created 11 May 2011
 
a list of 35 titles
created 10 Sep 2011
 
a list of 33 titles
created 11 Feb 2013
 
a list of 28 titles
created 10 months ago
 
a list of 44 titles
created 7 months ago
 

Related Items


Connect with IMDb


Share this Rating

Title: An American Crime (2007)

An American Crime (2007) on IMDb 7.4/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of An American Crime.

User Polls

Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Crime | Drama | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Based on the Jack Ketchum novel of the same name, The Girl Next Door follows the unspeakable torture and abuses committed on a teenage girl in the care of her aunt...and the boys who witness and fail to report the crime.

Director: Gregory Wilson
Stars: William Atherton, Blythe Auffarth, Blanche Baker
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

An adventurous coming-of-age story that follows young rebellious Sherry through Europe as she loses her illusions, virginity and lip ring.

Director: Alison Murray
Stars: Ellen Page, Natasha Wightman, August Diehl
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

15-year-old Tracey Berkowitz is naked under a shower curtain at the back of a bus, looking for her little brother Sonny, who thinks he's a dog.

Director: Bruce McDonald
Stars: Ellen Page, Zie Souwand, Maxwell McCabe-Lokos
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

In Manitoba, Hagar Shipley is nearing 90. She has little, she tells us, but her memories. Over several weeks, during which she runs away from her son and daughter-in-law who want to place ... See full summary »

Director: Kari Skogland
Stars: Ellen Burstyn, Christine Horne, Ellen Page
Peacock (2010)
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

A train accident in rural Nebraska gradually unveils a mystery involving the town's bank clerk.

Director: Michael Lander
Stars: Cillian Murphy, Ellen Page, Susan Sarandon
Marion Bridge (2002)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Three estranged sisters reunite to care for their dying mother and old conflicts and secrets return to the surface.

Director: Wiebke von Carolsfeld
Stars: Molly Parker, Rebecca Jenkins, Stacy Smith
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A day-in-the-life dark comedy concerning a group of islanders, their respective secrets, and one man's plan to kill himself quietly.

Director: Daniel MacIvor
Stars: James Allodi, Maury Chaykin, Paul Gross
Hard Candy (2005)
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A teenage girl raids a man's home, suspecting he is a pedophile, in order to expose him.

Director: David Slade
Stars: Patrick Wilson, Ellen Page, Sandra Oh
Smart People (2008)
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

Into the life of a widowed professor comes a new love and an unexpected visit from his adopted brother.

Director: Noam Murro
Stars: Dennis Quaid, Thomas Haden Church, Sarah Jessica Parker
Touchy Feely (2013)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.3/10 X  

A massage therapist is unable to do her job when stricken with a mysterious and sudden aversion to bodily contact. Meanwhile, her uptight brother's floundering dental practice receives new life when clients seek out his healing touch.

Director: Lynn Shelton
Stars: Rosemarie DeWitt, Ellen Page, Josh Pais
Touch & Go (2003)
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
Director: Scott Simpson
Stars: Jeffrey Douglas, Patricia Zentilli, Stephen Sharkey
Love That Boy (2003)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A young women who sets out to find a boyfriend get's more than she bargained for when she falls for a much younger boy.

Director: Andrea Dorfman
Stars: Nadia Litz, Nikki Barnett, Adrien Dixon
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
Shirley Baniszewski (as Hannah Leigh Dworkin)
...
...
Reverend Bill Collier
...
Marie Baniszewski
...
Hope Orbach
Patricia Place ...
Mrs. Doyle
Calvin Keet ...
Mr. Doyle
Edit

Storyline

Based on a true story that shocked the nation in 1965, the film recounts one of the most shocking crimes ever committed against a single victim. Sylvia and Jennie Fae Likens, the two daughters of traveling carnival workers are left for an extended stay at the Indianapolis home of single mother Gertrude Baniszewski and her six children. Times are tough, and Gertrude's financial needs cause her to make this arrangement before realizing how the burden will push her unstable nature to a breaking point. What transpires in the next three months is both riveting and horrific, leaving one child dead and the rest scarred for life. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The true story of a shocking crime and a secret that wouldn't keep. See more »

Genres:

Biography | Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong and disturbing depiction of child abuse and torture | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

7 December 2007 (Sweden)  »

Also Known As:

The Basement  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Budget:

$2,000,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Catherine Keener originally turned down the role of Gertrude Baniszewski, however after she couldn't get the story out of her head she met with director Tommy O'Haver and agreed to do the film. See more »

Goofs

(at around 1 min) When Gertrude Baniszewski burns Sylvia Likens with a cigarette on the top of her hand, Sylvia screams (flash to outside) the view from the outside of the house shows a fan in the front window of the house then, Sylvia screams again and the next view from outside the house there is no fan in the window. See more »

Quotes

Sylvia Likens: She sacrificed me to protect her children, and she sacrificed her children to protect herself.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The final credit states "Sylvia Likens, 1949-1965". See more »

Connections

Referenced in The 66th Annual Golden Globe Awards (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

96 Tears
Written by Rudy Martinez
Performed by ? and The Mysterians
Courtesy of ABKCO Music & Records, Inc.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Shocking, Repulsive...and Fascinating
26 May 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

AN American CRIME is a problematic little reenactment of a real criminal case of child abuse dating back to 1965. The story is horrifying and while the film places the facts in our faces, the impact of the film is out of focus. This is due to the script that elects to glaze over the motivational aspects of a brutal crime in favor of attempting to investigate fully the mindset of both the perpetrator and the victims. Were it not for some sterling performances by Catherine Keener and Ellen Page this film might be easily dismissed: the strength of these actresses to overcome a weak script and manage to involve us is much to their credit as artists.

Indiana, 1965, and Gertrude Baniszewski (Catherine Keener) is a 'borderline' single mother of several children who is asked to take care of Sylvia (Ellen Page) and Jennie Likens (Hayley McFarland) while the girls parents remain on the road as carnies, promising to send checks to help support their farmed out children. Gertrude is a woman of loose morals who adds babies to her large family during liaisons with young men like the itinerant Dennis (James Franco). Gertrude takes in laundry to support her household and requires her young children to work toward the same goal. A friction develops between Sylvia and Jenny and the children by Gertrude's illicit adventures as well as covert sexual similarities surfacing in her children and at 'family meetings' Gertrude doles out punishment for Sylvia - punishment including cigarette burns, coke bottle insertions, branding etc. - all of which are undeserved and eventually lead to Sylvia's imprisonment in the basement where Gertrude and her children and their friends daily torture Sylvia. Eventually Sylvia dies and Gertrude and family are brought to court for charges of first-degree murder and variations thereof. The court proceedings (under the leadership of lawyer Leroy K. New played by Bradley Whitford) provide the story drivers as each allegation is then acted out by flashbacks until the verdicts are reached.

Catherine Keener is superb as the deranged, maladaptive Gertrude and Ellen Page adds yet another feather to her cap in a role that in another actor's hands could have been over the top. Writer/director Tommy O'Haver (the script was written with the aid of Irene Turner) does manage to show us the facts of this atrocity yet fails to go inside the characters to give us the psychobiographies this film has the potential for illuminating. It may well repel some viewers, but it does bring to the forefront a crime that is all too common in this country.

Grady Harp


17 of 22 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
The most evil of them all fleurus-d-864-162834
The Baniszewski kids should be haunted by Sylvia's face forever davidjrichardson73
Paula Baniszewski in Iowa metalkyle-595-718974
The Dream Sequence tromphisromphis
Compared to The Girl Nextdoor chelsi-boswell
Why such a low score on Rotten Tomatoes? ebrady98
Discuss An American Crime (2007) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?